Actress-singer-Mickey Mouse Club icon Annette Funicello has died from complications related to multiple sclerosis. She was 70.
Disney confirmed her passing Monday on Twitter.
In 1955, a then-12-year-old Funicello was cast as one of Disney’s Mouseketeers (she was reportedly handpicked by Walt himself.) She later attained teen idol status alongside Frankie Avalon in the “Beach Party” movie franchise.
Funicello went public with her MS diagnosis in 1992.
One of television’s great dads has passed away. Actor Conrad Bain, who played Mr. Philip Drummond on the NBC/ABC comedy Diff’rent Strokes, is dead of natural causes at the age of 89, according to the Associated Press. He died in his hometown of Livermore, California, on Monday night.
Bain is also well-known for his role as the stuffy Arthur Harmon on CBS’s Maude. His long career includes appearances on Broadway and roles in Dark Shadows and Woody Allen’s Bananas. In 1986, he reprised his role as Philip Drummond on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in a guest spot. His last role was as a priest on the CBS series Unforgettable.
Bain’s passing leaves Todd Bridges as the last living core cast member of Diff’rent Strokes. Dana Plato, who played Kimberly, overdosed on prescription drugs in 1999, and Gary Coleman died in 2010.
Larry Hagman, who played DALLAS’s iconic J.R. Ewing, both in the original CBS series and the TNT reboot, died in a Dallas hospital on November 23 at the age of 81. The cause was complications from his battle with throat cancer. The popular TV star, who also starred in I DREAM OF JEANNIE, won six Soap Opera Digest Awards for the role of J.R.
As the pop culture world mourns the loss of Larry Hagman, producers of TNT’s hit Dallas reboot are set to begin scripting a proper finale for his unforgettable, supervillain J.R. Ewing. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hagman filmed six of Seasn 2′s 15 episodes, set to premiere Jan. 28.
While there is no word on how Hagman’s passing will impact production for the remainder of the season, it reportedly won’t alter the premiere’s schedule. Said Cynthia Cidre and Michael M. Robin in a joint statement:
“Larry Hagman was a giant, a larger-than-life personality whose iconic performance as J.R. Ewing will endure as one of the most indelible in entertainment history,” the statement said. “He truly loved portraying this globally recognized character, and he leaves a legacy of entertainment, generosity and grace. Everyone at Warner Bros. and in the Dallas family is deeply saddened by Larry’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family and dear friends during this difficult time.”
Phyllis Diller, the legendary comedienne who paved the way for many female comics, has died. She was 95.
Diller died Monday at her Los Angeles home surrounded by family, TMZ reports. Diller had reportedly fallen recently, but the accident isn’t believed to be associated with her death.
Born Phyllis Ada Driver, Diller began her career on an Oakland, Calif. radio show in 1952. From there she went on to film a 15-minute television series called Phyllis Dillis, the Homely Friendmaker. Soon she began co-starring with Bob Hope on multiple television specials and films in the 1960s. Hope then brought her on his USO tour in Vietnam in 1966.
Diller, who was a regular on Laugh-In, starred in her own television series, The Phyllis Diller Show on ABC in 1966 as well as The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show on NBC in 1968. The following year she starred on Broadway in Hello, Dolly!
More recently, Diller appeared on 7th Heaven, The Drew Carey Show, did a cameo on Boston Legal and voiced characters on The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and Family Guy. Her most recent appearance was this year on two episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful.
Diller earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1993.
Ron Palillo, who played Arnold Horshack on the 1970s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, passed away this morning from an apparent heart attack at his home in Palm Beach, Florida. He was 63 years old.
Palillo played goofball Horshack on the ABC series from 1975 to 1979 alongside Gabe Kaplan and a young John Travolta. Horshack’s trademark was raising his hand excitedly in class and saying, “Ooh ooh ooooh!” when he thought he knew the answer to one of Mr. Kotter’s questions.
After Kotter, Palillo did a lot of voice acting and played the multicolored talking puzzle box in the trippy animated series Rubik, the Amazing Cube. He also taught at the G-Star School of the Arts.
Ernest Borgnine, the beefy screen star known for blustery, often villainous roles, but who won the best-actor Oscar for playing against type as a lovesick butcher in “Marty” in 1955, died Sunday. He was 95.
His longtime spokesman, Harry Flynn, told The Associated Press that Borgnine died of renal failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with his wife and children at his side.
Borgnine, who endeared himself to a generation of Baby Boomers with the 1960s TV comedy “McHale’s Navy,” first attracted notice in the early 1950s in villain roles, notably as the vicious Fatso Judson, who beat Frank Sinatra to death in “From Here to Eternity.”
Then came “Marty,” a low-budget film based on a Paddy Chayefsky television play that starred Rod Steiger. Borgnine played a 34-year-old who fears he is so unattractive he will never find romance. Then, at a dance, he meets a girl with the same fear.
“Sooner or later, there comes a point in a man’s life when he’s gotta face some facts,” Marty movingly tells his mother at one point in the film. “And one fact I gotta face is that, whatever it is that women like, I ain’t got it. I chased after enough girls in my life. I-I went to enough dances. I got hurt enough. I don’t wanna get hurt no more.”
The realism of Chayefsky’s prose and Delbert Mann’s sensitive direction astonished audiences accustomed to happy Hollywood formulas. Borgnine won the Oscar and awards from the Cannes Film Festival, New York Critics and National Board of Review.
Mann and Chayefsky also won Oscars, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hailed the $360,000 “Marty” as best picture over big-budget contenders “The Rose Tattoo,” “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing,” “Picnic” and “Mister Roberts.”
“The Oscar made me a star, and I’m grateful,” Borgnine told an interviewer in 1966. “But I feel had I not won the Oscar I wouldn’t have gotten into the messes I did in my personal life.”
Those messes included four failed marriages, including one in 1964 to singer Ethel Merman that lasted less than six weeks.
But Borgnine’s fifth marriage, in 1973 to Norwegian-born Tova Traesnaes, endured and brought with it an interesting business partnership. She manufactured and sold her own beauty products under the name of Tova and used her husband’s rejuvenated face in her ads.
During a 2007 interview with the AP, Borgnine expressed delight that their union had reached 34 years. “That’s longer than the total of my four other marriages,” he commented, laughing heartily.
Although still not a marquee star until after “Marty,” the roles of heavies started coming regularly after “From Here to Eternity.” Among the films: “Bad Day at Black Rock,” “Johnny Guitar,” “Demetrius and the Gladiators,” “Vera Cruz.”
Director Nick Ray advised the actor: “Get out of Hollywood in two years or you’ll be typed forever.” Then came the Oscar, and Borgnine’s career was assured.
He played a sensitive role opposite Bette Davis in another film based on a Chayefsky TV drama, “The Catered Affair,” a film that was a personal favorite. It concerned a New York taxi driver and his wife who argued over the expense of their daughter’s wedding.
But producers also continued casting Borgnine in action films such as “Three Bad Men,” “The Vikings,” “Torpedo Run,” “Barabbas,” “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Wild Bunch.”
Then he successfully made the transition to TV comedy.
From 1962 to 1966, Borgnine – a Navy vet himself – starred in “McHale’s Navy” as the commander of a World War II PT boat with a crew of misfits and malcontents. Obviously patterned after Phil Silvers’ popular Sgt. Bilko, McHale was a con artist forever tricking his superior, Capt. Binghamton, played by the late Joe Flynn.
The cast took the show to the big screen in 1964 with a “McHale’s Navy” movie.
Borgnine’s later films included “Ice Station Zebra,” “The Adventurers,” “Willard,” “The Poseidon Adventure,” “The Greatest” (as Muhammad Ali’s manager), “Convoy,” “Ravagers,” “Escape from New York,” “Moving Target” and “Mistress.”
More recently, Borgnine had a recurring role as the apartment house doorman-cum-chef in the NBC sitcom “The Single Guy.” He had a small role in the unsuccessful 1997 movie version of “McHale’s Navy.” And he was the voice of Mermaid Man on “SpongeBob SquarePants” and Carface on “All Dogs Go to Heaven 2.”
“I don’t care whether a role is 10 minutes long or two hours,” he remarked in 1973. “And I don’t care whether my name is up there on top, either. Matter of fact, I’d rather have someone else get top billing; then if the picture bombs, he gets the blame, not me.”
Ermes Efron Borgnino was born in Hamden, Conn., on Jan. 24, 1917, the son of Italian immigrant parents. The family lived in Milan when the boy was 2 to 7, then returned to Connecticut, where he attended school in New Haven.
Borgnine joined the Navy in 1935 and served on a destroyer during World War II. He weighed 135 pounds when he enlisted. He left the Navy 10 years later, weighing exactly 100 pounds more.
“I wouldn’t trade those 10 years for anything,” he said in 1956. “The Navy taught me a lot of things. It molded me as a man, and I made a lot of wonderful friends.”
For a time he contemplated taking a job with an air conditioning company. But his mother persuaded him to enroll at the Randall School of Dramatic Arts in Hartford. He stayed four months, the only formal training he received.
He appeared in repertory at the Barter Theater in Virginia, toured as a hospital attendant in “Harvey” and played a villain on TV’s “Captain Video.”
After earning $2,300 in 1951, Borgnine almost accepted a position with an electrical company. But the job fell through, and he returned to acting, moving into a modest house in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.
His first marriage was to Rhoda Kenins, whom he met when she was a Navy pharmacist’s mate and he was a patient. They had a daughter, but the marriage ended in divorce after his “Marty” stardom.
Borgnine married Mexican actress Katy Jurado in 1959, and their marriage resulted in headlined squabbles from Hollywood to Rome before it ended in 1964.
In 1963, he and Merman startled the show business world by announcing, after a month’s acquaintance, that they would marry when his divorce from Jurado became final. The Broadway singing star and the movie tough guy seemed to have nothing in common, and their marriage ended in 38 days after a fierce battle.
“If you blinked, you missed it,” Merman once cracked.
Next came one-time child actress Donna Rancourt, with whom Borgnine had a daughter, and finally his happy union with Tova.
On Jan. 24, 2007, Borgnine celebrated his 90th birthday with a party for friends and family at a West Hollywood bistro. He seemed little changed from his years as a lusty villain or sympathetic hero on the screen. His only concession to age had come at 88 when he gave up driving the bus he would take around the country, stopping to talk with local folks along the way.
During an interview at the time, Borgnine complained that he wanted to continue acting but most studio executives kept asking, “Is he still alive?”
“I just want to do more work,” he said. “Every time I step in front of a camera I feel young again. I really do. It keeps your mind active and it keeps you going.”
Legendary multihyphenate Andy Griffith has died, his close friend and UNC president Bill Friday told North Carolina’s WITN-TV. Griffith was found in his Dare County, N.C. home on Tuesday morning; he was 86.
Television viewers first met Griffith through his 1950s appearances on variety programs such as The Ed Sullivan Show and The Steve Allen Show, but it was the role of Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show, which ran from 1960 to 1968, that made him a household name. Watch the opening:
Ron Howard, who played Sheriff Taylor’s son Opie, remembers Griffith for “his love of creating, the joy he took in it whether it was drama or comedy or his music, was inspiring to grow up around,” the actor-turned-filmmaker says in a statement to our sister site Deadline. “The spirit he created on the set of The Andy Griffith Show was joyful and professional all at once. It was an amazing environment.”
Griffith went on to appear in series such as the Andy Griffith Show offshoot Mayberry R.F.D., Headmaster and The New Andy Griffith Show (playing the mayor of a Southern town), as well as star in the miniseries Washington: Behind Closed Doors and Centennial.
After a run of one-offs on shows such as The Love Boat and Hotel, plus the occasional Andy Taylor reprisal, Griffith in 1986 headlined NBC’s Matlock, playing an elite criminal defense attorney. That show ran for nine seasons.
Griffith’s most recent on-camera roles included a visit to Dawson’s Creek, playing “Old Joe” in the 2007 indie Waitress, starring Keri Russell, and Brad Paisley’s video for “Waitin’ on a Woman.”
TCM will tribute Griffith on Wednesday, July 18, with four of his films: Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd (1957), at 8/7c; No Time for Sergeants (1958) at 10:15 pm; Hearts of the West (1975) at 12:30 am; and Onionhead (1958), at 2:15 am Thursday.
TV Land will remember the actor with blocks of the most memorable Andy Griffith Show episodes, running Wednesday, July 4, from 8 am to 1 pm ET, and Saturday and Sunday, July 7 and 8, from 11 am to 8pm.
Frank Cady, best known as Sam Drucker on Green Acres, Petticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies, has died. He was 96.
Cady died Friday at his home in Wilsonville, Ore., his daughter Catherine Turk told The Los Angeles Times. A cause of death was not given.
Born and raised in California, Cady started acting in 1946 after serving in World War II, landing small roles, including a non-speaking part in Rear Window. He recurred on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet as Doc Williams in the 1950s.
In 1965, he scored the role of general store proprietor Sam Drucker on Green Acres. During the show’s run, he guest-starred on Petticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies as Drucker, becoming the only actor to play a recurring character on three sitcoms simultaneously. He reprised the part for the 1990 TV movie Return to Green Acres — his final acting role.
Cady married his wife Shirley in 1940; she died in 2008. Besides their daughter Catherine, he is survived by their son Steven, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Emmy-winning actress Kathryn Joosten, who was best known for her role as nosy neighbor Karen McCluskey on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, died on June 2 after a long battle with lung cancer. Joosten, who was a longtime friend of B&B Head Writer/Executive Producer Brad Bell, appeared on B&B as herself in late 2010 and early 2011 during a cancer arc involving Jack and Stephanie. “We are sad to learn of Kathryn’s passing. She was a tremendous actress and a brave warrior for lung cancer awareness. She was an integral part of our lung cancer story arc and we feel fortunate for the time we spent with her,” Bell said in a statement. Joosten was 72.
Richard Dawson, the original host of TV’s Family Feud and one of Hogan’s Heroes, passed away on Saturday night. He was 79.
Dawson’s son Gary shared the sad news via Facebook, saying, “It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my father passed away this evening from complications due to esophageal cancer. He was surrounded by his family. He was an amazing talent, a loving husband, a great dad, and a doting grandfather. He will be missed but always remembered.”
Born in Gosport, Hampsire, England, Dawson’s first major acting role after moving to Los Angeles was as Cpl. Peter Newkirk on the war-themed comedy Hogan’s Heroes, which ran from 1965 to ’71. After that show’s run, he appeared as a panelist on such game/quiz shows as I’ve Got a Secret and Match Game.
Fun fact: So popular was Dawson on Match Game that contestants almost always chose him as their Head-to-Head bonus round partner — to the point that a rule change was made where the celeb partner was randomly selected for the player.
As a host, Dawson’s credits include Family Feud, which debuted in July 1976 and where he was famous for smooching female players, and what I always felt was the too-short-lived Masquerade Party.
On the big screen, Dawson tweaked his TV persona by playing a malevolent game show host/producer in 1987′s The Running Man, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Emmy winner Kathryn Joosten, whose emotional death scene as Karen McKluskey gave Desperate Housewives‘ recent series finale its biggest emotional punch, died on Friday of lung cancer in Westlake Village, CA. She was 72.
Joosten won her Emmys in 2005 and 2008 in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy for her portrayal of Wisteria Lane’s crankiest (but still loveable) resident.
Prior to her Housewives success, Joosten was best known for playing Mrs. Landingham, secretary to Martin Sheen’s President Bartlet, on The West Wing.
She also had roles on such shows as Scrubs, My Name Is Earl, Joan of Arcadia, and Dharma & Greg.
Joosten, who didn’t begin her acting career until she was 42, famously told interviewers through the years that Housewives‘ creator Marc Cherry had promised never to kill off Mrs. McCluskey, seeing how many of her prior characters hadn’t survived to their shows’ series finales.
According to her rep, Joosten was surrounded by family at the time of her death.
As news spread of Joosten’s passing, castmates recent and from the past, as well as peers, shared condolences via Twitter. Among them:
Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives): “Thank you Kathryn. For your courage, your humor, your fight and your talent. We were so lucky to have you.”
Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives): “All my prayers and love to Kathryn Joosten’s family. Rest in peace, she was an amazing woman and a wonderful actress.”
Rob Lowe (The West Wing, now of Parks and Recreation): “Goodbye Kathryn; our beloved Mrs Landingham. You will never truly be gone, film is forever. Tell Leo [played by the late John Spencer] I love him.”
Dule Hill (The West Wing, now of Psych): “Saddened about the passing of Kathryn Joosten. It was an honor to work with you and an even greater honor knowing you, Kathryn.”
Emmy Rossum (Shameless): “So sad to read that actress Kathryn Joosten passed away. Mrs. Landingham from The West Wing is one of my all time favorite TV characters.”
Yvette Nicole Brown (Community): “I am heartbroken by the loss of my friend. … Kathryn Joosten taught me SO much about the business. She was funny, fun & TOUGH and I loved her to pieces!”
Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory creator): “Kathryn Joosten recurred on Dharma & Greg when I worked there. She was a truly lovely lady.”
Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy creator): “Very sad about the death of Kathryn Joosten. She was on [Grey's] in Season 1, but she’ll always be Mrs. Landingham on West Wing for me.”